RCMP report increase in church break-ins in 2020

·1 min read

Mounties say churches in Saskatchewan are being broken into at a higher rate than last year.

Between January and November of this year, police reported a 60 per cent increase in break-ins in churches over last year. A news release said 64 of the incidents happened in 55 churches across the province.

A majority of the affected churches, 43, were in central Saskatchewan, and saw a 173 per cent increase in break-ins over last year, the news release said.

"This new trend affects churches of all denominations," the release said. "Nothing indicates these crimes are motivated by hate, racism or ideology."

The police statement said in most of the incidents, culprits appeared to force their way into the buildings at night when they were closed and vacant. Items like money, electronics, computers, guitars, safes, freezers and refrigerators were reported stolen.

Monica Deters, the RCMP crime prevention and crime reduction analyst who compiled the data, said the break-ins represent a concerning pattern because the break-ins happened all year across the province.

She said it was "imperative" everyone gets involved to secure local churches from crime.

"Stay alert, especially at night, and report any suspicious activity around churches to your local RCMP detachment or police service," the police news release said.

"If you are a resident, keep an eye on your community's churches and ensure your religious representatives know about this new increase of break-ins into churches."

Police asked community representatives to discuss ways to repurpose and manage abandoned churches in their communities. Church caretakers were asked to ensure building doors were locked when the church was empty and to secure items of value in a locked space, while noting serial numbers or other identifying features of items in their buildings.